Flash storage took a major step toward becoming a mainstream storage medium with the acquisition of Virident Systems by Western Digital in an all-cash deal valued at $685 million.
That deal comes on the heels of its acquisition of sTec, another provider of Flash memory and solid-state disk (SSD) drives that was valued at $340 million.
Since its acquisition of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) in 2011, Western Digital has become a leading provider of magnetic disk drive used in the enterprise-class storage systems. The company prefers to sell storage for the enterprise through OEM partners, but it does have a unit that sells storage systems to consumers and small-to-midsize businesses under the Western Digital brand.
According to Virident CEO Mike Gustafson, customers should expect to see HGST develop an intelligent stack of software that will help automate the management of data across hybrid storage environments made up of both Flash technology from Virident and sTec and magnetic storage systems. The only hiccup in that strategy may be that prior to the acquisition, Virident was a strategic partner of Seagate Technology.
As an early pioneer of Flash storage in the enterprise, Virident has already made a lot of progress in terms of turning Flash storage on a server into a shared resource. But while most of the decisions regarding the acquisition of Flash storage have been pushed by developers and database administrators looking to boost application performance, it’s clear that storage administrators will be taking over the management of Flash storage systems to both unify the management of storage and shrink the overall size of the data center.
As the shift to Flash storage continues to gain momentum, the Western Digital acquisition of Virident is only the latest in a string of mergers and acquisitions across the storage market. What makes this one interesting is that it involves a provider of magnetic disk drives moving one step closer to providing storage systems directly to the enterprise instead of through OEM partners, which have prior enjoyed much higher profit margins than the companies that actually manufactured the drives that make up the storage systems.